God’s Smoke Signals

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus (John 16:33)

The story is told of a shipwreck survivor winding up on a deserted island. Daily he prayed that God would rescue him. A few days into his ordeal, he decided to build a hut for protection and storage of the few supplies that had washed up on shore. He continued to pray and wait with hope for deliverance. 

One day, after taking a walk around the island, he returned to find his hut and everything in it consumed by fire. His heart sank as he watched everything he had go up in flames. Surely, he was doomed to live out what days he could survive on this isolated landmass. But it was not the end of his story.

The very next day a ship appeared at the island. Grateful for his rescue, he asked the captain how he knew he was there. The captain replied, “We saw your smoke signal.”

Take Heart

In John 16:33 Jesus reminds us that trouble in life is to be expected. Yet, Jesus continues with these encouraging words: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How does taking heart work? Does it mean when disaster strikes, I grit my teeth, take a deep breath, and pull myself through it with self-discipline and positive thoughts?

Self-discipline and positive thinking are important qualities, but they are not sufficient by themselves. The trap is to make hope dependent upon MY efforts. When things don’t happen as I expect, I look inward to find a solution; “What can I do to work this out?” But that is fleeting at best.

An Upward Gaze

Real hope is anchored in an upward gaze, not an inward confidence. I must look beyond myself. With my gaze fixed on Jesus, I am brought to the place of trust in the one who has won the victory already. In Him is my enduring hope flowing from the Father’s lavish love, compassion and faithfulness. This is the hope my heart can securely hold to in which I can say with Jeremiah…

“I well remember them [my afflictions], and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  Lam. 3:20-23 

Grandparents ought to be well-equipped to model for their grandchildren the truth about hope in dark times. They are wise enough to know no matter what may come, God knows how to turn trouble into smoke signals and send help our way.

In what ways do you communicate words of hope to your grandchildren in the wake of tragedy and hard times? Will you share your thoughts so that others may benefit from your wisdom? 


The larger the God we know, the larger will be our faith.  -A. B. Simpson

1 reply
  1. Catherine H Jacobs
    Catherine H Jacobs says:

    Thanks for your wise post, Cavin Harper. Your words,”Real hope is anchored in an upward gaze, not an inward confidence”, are powerful for any time but are especially significant for those of us with a hurricane swirling nearby. Blessings to you, Cathy Jacobs, Pass the Legacy Ministry


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